Comprising two islands in the North Sea, Heligoland has been part of Schleswig-Holstein since 1890. The archipelago was once administered under Dutch and then British rule before being a “war prize” between 1945 and 1952. It’s renowned for its golden beaches and red-hued cliffs, which include the 47-metre-high “Tall Anna” rock column.
Things to do in Heligoland
Learn about the lifestyle of the archipelago’s inhabitants at the Heligoland Museum, which is fronted by colourful lobster booths. Each contains exhibits related to the island’s natural or cultural history, reflecting Heligoland’s time under Danish, British and German rule. Lobster booths also line the street that leads between Heligoland’s port and the Lower Town, with several transformed into souvenirs shops and cafes.
Overlooking the west coast of Heligoland is a red-brick lighthouse that was originally constructed as an anti-aircraft tower during World War II. It boasts the strongest light on Germany’s North Sea coast and can be seen as far away as the East and North Frisian islands. The Heligoland Lighthouse is a short stroll from the Ausgang “Luftschutzbunker”, an underground air-raid shelter that can be explored on guided tours.
If you have more than a day to spend in Heligoland, be sure to visit the neighbouring island of Düne. It was connected to Heligoland until the 17th century when a powerful storm surge separated the two. Aside from being home to the Heligoland Airport, it’s ringed by beautiful beaches that are blissfully uncrowded.
Getting around Heligoland
Heligoland Airport is located on the island of Düne and has regular flights to Cuxhaven-Nordholz and Heide-Büsum. Daily boat tours are available from Cuxhaven, Büsum and Hamburg, with both of Heligoland’s islands easily walkable. Private vehicles are not permitted on the islands.